State Department Faces Subpoena From Foreign Affairs Committee Over Afghanistan Records

State Department Faces Subpoena From Foreign Affairs Committee Over Afghanistan Records
House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas) questions Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a hearing in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington on April 28, 2022. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The State Department is facing a potential subpoena from the House Foreign Affairs Committee after failing to disclose a pair of records regarding the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The department failed to provide an after-action report and a dissent cable in response to a request by Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) by end of day on March 22, a committee spokesperson told The Epoch Times by email.

The chairman previously said he would issue a subpoena if State did not comply with his query.

The dissent channel is an internal process at the State Department that allows officials to express disagreement with policy. The cable requested by the committee was reportedly written by 23 embassy officials on July 13, 2021, according to a foreign affairs committee press release.

McCaul sent a letter (pdf) to Secretary of State Antony Blinken on March 20, following up on previous requests and emphasizing the need for the State Department to produce the records regarding the Biden administration’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan.

McCaul asked that the State Department send at least three documents by March 22 in response to a query from the department to identify the materials deemed most significant to the committee’s oversight responsibilities.

The exploration for records coincides with Blinken’s scheduled appearance before the committee on March 23 to discuss President Joe Biden’s 2024 budget plan.

During the hearing, McCaul addressed the department’s lack of cooperation in providing the dissent cable and response requested by the committee. The chairman said he would issue a subpoena if they don’t have it by the close of business on March 27.

“Your department cited then-Secretary Henry Kissinger’s refusal to provide a dissent cable to Congress in the 1970s as precedent,” McCaul said, addressing Blinken. “I would argue you do not have an executive privilege on this cable.”

The recent letter follows a protracted series of inquiries from the committee. McCaul filed a comprehensive document petition on Jan. 12, regarding the pullout, with many of the requests dating back to August 2021, as outlined in the committee’s recent press release.

Constructive Discussion

A state department spokesperson responded to The Epoch Times’s inquiry saying that they generally don’t comment on Congressional correspondence.

However, the spokesperson also said they are committed to working with Congressional committees with jurisdiction to appropriately accommodate their need for information and said that the department has provided more than 200 briefings to bipartisan Members and responded to numerous requests for information on Afghanistan policy since the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the area.

The State Department also reiterated McCaul’s previous comments that he and Binken had a constructive discussion when the lawmaker visited the department and said they were working as quickly as possible to accommodate what they consider to be an extensive and detailed request.

A suicide bombing at the international airport in Kabul on Aug. 26, 2021, killed 13 U.S. military members and injured hundreds of others. It was viewed as a serious security lapse by the government.

“So, I believe this committee and the American people, after what happened … in that dreadful August need to see the cable,” McCaul said to Blinken during the hearing. “And if you fail, I am prepared to serve you a subpoena.”

From The Epoch Times

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